Dixon Voters Turn Down Proposed Racetrack

Dixon Voters Turn Down Proposed Racetrack
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Voters in the farm town of Dixon, Calif., turned down Magna Entertainment Corporation's proposed $250 million horse racing complex by less than 300 votes April 17.

The final tally showed the opposition winning with about 53% of the 4,913 total ballots cast. There was a 66% voter turnout from the town, which has been embroiled in a controversy over the project for the past two years. Voters overturned four separate actions that were approved by the Dixon City Council allowing the racetrack and accompanying development to go forward. A grassroots citizens campaign qualified the opposition measures for the ballot and prevailed with an anti-gambling message.

Although the final vote was close, the "no" side led throughout the evening.

Busloads of volunteers came from Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows to help get out the vote on election day. California Horse Racing Board commissioner John Harris brought his own contingent of horse owners and breeders.

"In many ways, this is a referendum on our industry," Harris said while going door-to-door. "If this were to be defeated, it would be a terrible blow.”

Canada-based MEC bought the property in 2001 and proposed building a 260-acre horse racing track, entertainment complex and retail project in the farming town along Interstate 80 near Sacramento. Supporters said the project would boost the town's economy.

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